Apr 21, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks center Marcus Kruger (16) celebrates his goal against the St. Louis Blues during the third period in game three of the first round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the United Center. The Chicago Blackhawks defeated the St. Louis Blues 2-0. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
The first three games in the Chicago Blackhawks have been had about all you can ask for in the first three games from last second game tying goals, overtime heroics, and a shutout just in the nick of time. This series has been a strange one to start off with the “better team” actually losing each game. The Blackhawks were lucky that a rather routine shot got past Ryan Miller and Corey Crawford has one of his best playoff games of his career. Here’s a look at three things the Hawks need to do to pick up the win tonight and even up the series.
3. Improved Power Play
The Blackhawks penalty kill, with the shot blocking machines Michal Handzus and Niklas Hjalmarsson, have been spectacular in the first three games of the series. The problem has been the other special teams unit, the powerplay. The Hawks scored a powerplay goal in the first period of the series when Brent Seabrook put one past Miller and ever since the Hawks have looked very pathetic at best on the man advantage. Even with a 5 on 3 they made a bunch of great passes but they need a finisher and a body in front. The powerplay hasn’t been a factor in the series but an improved powerplay could turn a non-factor into a deciding factor.
2. Forward Presence From All Four Lines
For the first time this season the fourth line didn’t do any damage and struggled with possession. The Hawks had two forwards score on Monday night but they didn’t dominate by any stretch of the imagination. There is a good sign that Quenneville says he’s keeping Toews and Kane together that of course isn’t the problem it’s the other lines that have been stymied by the Blues. Kris Versteeg played good in Game #1 but hasn’t been seen since and Brandon Bollig is only out there to keep the peace. Michal Handzus is great on the PK but that’s it so the lines are a mess right now. The Hawks play there best hockey when they are rolling four lines and tonight they need all 12 forwards playing the Blackhawks way!
1. Stop Turning The Puck Over In Their Own End
The biggest thing the Hawks were doing that could have had their season crumble right before there very eyes was turnovers. Every time Johnny Oduya had the puck in the corner it was an adventure. Too many blind clearing attempts and I’m not sure what they were doing a couple of times with Crawford way out of the net. The turnovers were especially bad in the first period and of all the defenseman on the ice it wasn’t Sheldon Brookbank turning the puck over. The other 2 parings and players need to buckle down like they did in the final two frames.
Naturally scoring more goals is the key to victory but these three keys go along with scoring for an even slate with the Blue and a return trip to St. Louis tied 2-2
What is your keys to victory tonight?
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